WORLD PREMIERE: 2019 Audi S6 and S6 Avant — Comes in Two Flavors

Ever since the debut of the brand-new Audi A6, we’ve been waiting for a faster, more exciting version. The new A6’s chassis and steering is a significant step up from the car it replaced but there seemed to be quite a bit of room for improvement. So the idea of an Audi S6 based on this new chassis was very exciting. Thankfully, we don’t have to wait any longer to find out. It’s here — welcome the Audi S6 and S6 Avant.

Two Engine Flavors

This is quite interesting, actually. For the first time, the Audi S6 will be available with two different powertrains. It’s also the first time that the S6 is available with a diesel engine. The powertrain will depend on the market where it’s sold. For Europe, the Audi S6 will be powered by a 3.0 liter TDI V6 diesel engine that will make 349 hp and 516 lb-ft of torque (700 Nm). The latter of which is available at 2,500 rpm.

Don’t think the new Audi S6 is old-school because it uses a diesel engine. It’s actually quite the high-tech engine, thanks to its EPC (Electric Powered Compressor) and 48-volt mild-hybrid system. The former is essentially an electric turbocharger that adds boost pressure as low as 1,650 rpm. It also helps add boost at cruising speed when extra throttle is added, which allows the engine to make enough power to move the car at a higher gear, thus requiring less transmission kick-downs. That might not sound sexy or exciting but it helps the engine become more efficient.

As for the 48-volt MHEV (Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle) system, it helps to power a BAS (Battery Alternator Starter), which is effectively a small electric motor which can power the engine’s crankshaft. It can actually start the engine while warm and it can power the crankshaft entirely while the engine shuts down at cruising speed, thus saving more fuel.

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So it’s a high-tech diesel engine that delivers a wallop of torque, all of which is sent through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. With that high-tech wallop of torque, the Audi S6 is capable of 0-60 mph in 5.0 second flat. Now, that’s not all that quick by modern standards, especially when you consider that its slower than the car it replaces. The old S6 made 450 hp and could get to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. However, this new car is far more efficient than the one it replaces and that matters today.

Also, there will be a faster Audi S6 and that’s the model that will come to the North American, Asian and Middle Eastern markets. Rather than use the 3.0 TDI engine, the American market Audi S6 will get a 2.9 liter twin-turbocharged V6 gasoline engine, the same one that powers the Audi RS5. That makes 450 hp and 442 lb-ft of torque and should be a bit quicker, thanks to its extra power and lighter weight. Also, it will have all of the same high-tech kit as the diesel engine.

Handling and Dynamics

Don’t think that the Audi S6 is just a straight-line cruise missile, though. It should handle as well as it accelerates. Obviously, Quattro all-wheel drive is standard but its torque split is 40:60 front-to-rear, making it slightly rear-biased. It can also send up to 85 percent of its power to the rear-wheels, for better agility. It also gets a brake-torque vectoring system, which uses the brakes to slow down the two inside wheels while cornering, to help rotate the car around a corner.

The Audi S6 also gets revised steering over its more standard A6 sibling. It’s still a variable-ratio steering rack but the change in steering ratios is now more progressive. Rather than have any speed-sensitive steering, the ratio gets sharper as steering lock is applied. In essence, the more you turn the steering wheel, the sharper the steering gets. It’s that simple.

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It also gets four-wheel steering, adaptive air suspension and an optional sport rear differential, all to help it corner sharper than ever before.

Will it all add up to be a better car than the one it replaces? We think so and not just because of all we’re reading but because of how lacking the previous car was. The previous-gen Audi S6 was basically an incredible engine and a so/so chassis. Its steering was also too vague and sloppy. So we’re expecting a big improvement. Or maybe we’re just hoping.

Looks Angrier than Before

With the previous-gen Audi S6, there was very little to visually distinguish it from its standard A6 sibling. Sure, it was sportier looking but it took close inspection to notice. This new car isn’t as subtle. It’s still not wild looking but it’s definitely a noticeable upgrade from the regular A6.

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There will obviously be two different model variants, both Sedan and Avant. Personally, I think the Avant looks best and I’m hoping it makes its way to the US market. But the Sedan is no ugly duckling, either and a fine choice.

Black accents, larger wheels, quad exhausts and more aggressive front air intakes all combine to make the new S6 more exciting looking than the A6. There’s a bit of a new touch, though, as the new Audi S6 gets black mirror caps, rather than the brushed aluminum mirrors that have been worn by almost every other Audi ‘S’ car prior. On the inside, however, there’s not too much to differentiate the S6 from the A6. Sure it looks a bit snazzier and has upgraded leather but it’s nothing crazy.

Two Flavors, No Bad Option

It doesn’t matter which market you live in, the Audi S6 and S6 Avant seems to be an excellent choice of performance sedan or wagon. The S6, in either diesel or gasoline form, is fast, good looking, comfortable and it should handle properly as well. The standard A6 is a great everyday luxury sedan that’s both comfortable and fun enough to drive. We’re expecting this Audi S6 to add just enough spice in its handling and performance without compromising on any of the standard car’s comfort.

Nico DeMattia

I've been in love with cars since I was a kid, specifically German cars. Now I get to drive them talk about them on the internet.